There is increased evidence demonstrating the association between Crohn's Disease (CD), a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and non-diarrheagenic Adherent/Invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) isolates. AIEC strains are phenotypically characterized by their adhesion, invasion and intra-macrophage survival capabilities. In the present study, the genomes of five AIEC strains isolated from individuals without IBD (four from healthy donors and one from peritoneal liquid) were sequenced and compared with AIEC prototype strains (LF82 and NRG857c), and with extra-intestinal uropathogenic strain (UPEC CFT073). Non-IBD-AIEC strains showed an Average Nucleotide Identity up to 98% compared with control strains. Blast identities of the five non-IBD-AIEC strains were higher when compared to AIEC and UPEC reference strains than with another E. coli pathotypes, suggesting a relationship between them. The SNPs phylogeny grouped the five non-IBD-AIEC strains in one separated cluster, which indicates the emergence of these strains apart from the AIEC group. Additionally, four genomic islands not previously reported in AIEC strains were identified. An incomplete Type VI secretion system was found in non-IBD-AIEC strains; however, the Type II secretion system was complete. Several groups of genes reported in AIEC strains were searched in the five non-IBD-AIEC strains, and the presence of fimA, fliC, fuhD, chuA, irp2 and cvaC were confirmed. Other virulence factors were detected in non-IBD-AIEC strains, which were absent in AIEC reference strains, including EhaG, non-fimbrial adhesin 1, PapG, F17D-G, YehA/D, FeuC, IucD, CbtA, VgrG-1, Cnf1 and HlyE. Based on the differences in virulence determinants and SNPs, it is plausible to suggest that non-IBD AIEC strains belong to a different pathotype.
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